Speech and Hearing Sciences B.A.

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences advances innovative basic and applied research in communication sciences and speech and hearing disorders. It serves the community with clinical services, providing students with professional training and preparing them for clinical practice.

When pursuing a degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences you work with faculty members who have extensive research experience in the field. The department includes 12 faculty research labs where you have the opportunity to gain experience in speech perception, language development, voice disorders, bilingual language and audiology.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SLHS) is by definition an interdisciplinary field with its roots in psychology, physiology, physics, music, linguistics, and education. The program integrates these diverse influences through faculty scholarship, research, student education, and clinical services.

The department offers two undergraduate degrees, a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.). The curriculum for the B.A. degree combines a foundation in the liberal arts with strong preparation in the normal processes of speech, language, and hearing, as well as specialized training in communication disorders.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences offers a minor for students majoring in other subjects. The minor is designed to supplement other closely related degree programs, such as Human Development and Family Studies and Special Education.

Coursework

Getting started

Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences (SPHS) offers both B.A. and B.S. degree programs; students should consult the undergraduate academic advisor and evaluate each degree carefully.

Tracks and concentrations

The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) curriculum provides a broad liberal arts and sciences education. The major in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences provides a strong preparation in the normal processes of speech, language, and hearing, alongside an introduction to communication disorders.

Contact the academic advisor to discuss how to individualize your major in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences through focused coursework and field experience.

Upper level coursework

The Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences B.A. degree offers foundation and upper level seminar courses for students who want to pursue graduate degrees in Speech Language Pathology or Audiology. These courses give you the opportunity to work on lab research topics with faculty, improving your knowledge within the field and preparing you to apply to graduate school.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors or certificates.

Many students in the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences major also earn a second major in another field. Some of the most popular and closely related examples are Psychology, Spanish, and Linguistics.

Many students earn a minor as well. Recently, the most popular examples include Psychology, Linguistics, Spanish, Counseling, and Human Development and Family Studies.

Check your bulletin for more information about these majors and minors.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences B.A. degree, you work with faculty who have expertise and experience in many fields. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

Students in the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences major have the opportunity to work in faculty labs to gain the necessary experience to apply to a graduate program. This gives you experience conducting research in a variety of topics relevant to the speech and hearing sciences.

Under the supervision of a member of the faculty, you can also work on research topics through SPHS-X 490 Readings in Speech and Hearing Sciences. 

Honors

The academic advisor identifies students with an overall GPA of 3.5 or higher during the fall of their junior year, inviting them to apply to the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Departmental Honors Program.

Once accepted, students are paired with a faculty mentor to work on an honors thesis research project. Completing Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Honors is a good way to build research experience in advance of applying for graduate school. It also allows you to fulfill the College of Arts and Sciences Education (CASE) Intensive Writing requirement.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of receiving credit, through the Walter Center for Career Achievement. You'll find many resources there for both domestic and international internships. 

Students who earn an A- or better in their completed 100-, 200-, and 300- level Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences courses are invited to apply to the Speech and Hearing Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Internship program. This program allows you to build upon your understanding of the Speech and Hearing Sciences curriculum by becoming an intern, helping Speech and Hearing Sciences faculty teach and administer the introductory courses.

Many community internships are also available. Students in Speech and Hearing Sciences have completed internships with these organizations and others:

Foreign language study

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

Most students pursuing the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences B.A. degree select either American Sign Language or Spanish to satisfy their foreign language requirement, as both languages are particularly relevant to future careers in the field.

Many Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences patients have experience with deafness, yet are proficient in American Sign Language. The Spanish speaking population in the United States has grown and will continue to do so in the coming decades, making Spanish a practical choice for students entering the field.

Here is a partial list of foreign language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly interconnected world. Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences students often pursue language study and other coursework through the following programs:

  • Christchurch IES Program in Christchurch, New Zealand
  • Florence CAPA Program in Florence, Italy
  • Barcelona IES Program in Barcelona, Spain
  • Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel

The College of Arts + Sciences also directly hosts a variety of study abroad programs, some even featuring IU faculty, that might be right for you. Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences faculty, your academic advisor, and through the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Many students in the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences Department participate in student organizations. Common student organizations in our major include the following:

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one.

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

The Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences sponsors support groups in which majors become involved as volunteers. They help those with speech, language and hearing issues and work to increase awareness of those issues in the community.

Majors have the opportunity to volunteer to work with faculty in their labs on a variety of research topics to help improve their knowledge and prepare their resumes for graduate school applications.

Majors who intend to apply to the IU graduate program in Speech Language Pathology are required to earn 25 observation hours in a clinical setting as a prerequisite. Guidelines and record forms for observation hours are available through the program. Majors who plan to apply to the IU Audiology graduate program are not required to earn observation hours.

Professional organizations

Many students participate in the IU Chapter of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association. This gives you a chance to network with other SPHS students and career professionals, participating in guest lectures, events, and philanthropy.

Membership in the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is recommended for those who are entering the profession.

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

The Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences B.A. degree provides you with a set of skills and qualities that are relevant and transferrable to many areas of study and work. These include:

  • Knowledge of Human Communication: Demonstrate knowledge of the concepts, theories, and findings pertaining to basic and/or disordered human communication processes within the field of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Critical Thinking and Information Literacy: Gather, evaluate, and use scientific and/or clinical information effectively within the field of Speech and Hearing Sciences
  • Effective Communication: Develop the ability to speak and write about Speech and Hearing Sciences topics with sensitivity to linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Application: Use the tools, methods, and procedures appropriate to the field of speech language pathology or audiology to solve problems in research and/or clinical settings

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following five foundational skills that will serve you well in every career path:  

  • Question critically
  • Think logically
  • Communicate clearly
  • Act creatively
  • Live ethically

These foundational skills will aid you in landing your first job and advancing professionally throughout your working life. Not only are these the skills that employers say they value most in the workplace, they provide the best preparation for lifelong success in a world of complexity, uncertainty, and change.

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what key skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following are some of the most commonly desired attributes across many employment sectors:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work in a team
  • Written and verbal communication skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Ability to take Initiative
  • Being detail oriented
  • Demonstrating adaptability
  • Technical skills relevant to the field
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Organizational ability

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic advisor and career coach about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after College.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good starting point for exploring your career options is an appointment with your career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

The job market

Students majoring in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences typically pursue a master's degree (M.A.) if they wish to be qualified for the majority of speech language pathologist and speech therapy positions.

Speech Language Pathologists work in education, specialized clinics, healthcare systems, nursing homes, or private practice. Students who wish to have careers in audiology will pursue either an Au.D. or Ph.D. to be qualified for most positions in their field.

Students who complete the graduate degree programs achieve their goals as indexed by the 100% employment of our clinical program graduates (M.A. and Au.D.) and placement of our Ph.D. students in major universities and research positions in industry.

There has recently been an explosion of growth for the job of Speech Language Pathology Assistant (SLPA), a role requiring only a bachelor's degree. The projected growth for this career path is faster than average.

When searching for careers, consider using a variety of position titles, such as: Speech Language Pathology Assistant, Speech Language Pathologist Assistant, Communication Assistant, Speech Pathologist Assistant, Speech Language Assistant, Assistant Speech Language Pathologist, Speech and Language Assistant, Speech and Language Tutor, Speech Therapist Technician.

Talk with the faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach, and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by Speech and Hearing Sciences graduates. Find job listings and more information about careers in Speech Pathology and Audiology.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

Students who pursue a master's degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences are required to complete at least 300 clinical hours for licensure, including 25 hours during their undergraduate career. 

Consider seeking short-term opportunities in environments such as education, specialized clinics, healthcare systems, nursing homes, or private practice. These give you a chance to try out the field, seeing if it is a good fit for your long-term career goals.

Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences students can also gain valuable experience through working at summer camps that are specifically for children with disabilities, including but not limited to Speech and Hearing related issues. Search for camp opportunities through the American Camp Association.

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund your education. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profits, and government organizations.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association provides an in-depth overview of the post-graduate resources available to students majoring in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences. The number one tip is to start investigating your options early in your academic career.

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you will need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

The majority of students who major in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences will go on to pursue either a master's degree or professional certification in speech language. The path for audiology students is to complete an Au.D. or Ph.D. program. You need to research the program requirements of various schools early in your undergraduate career in order to ensure that you will have satisfied all of their required coursework and clinical or lab experiences. The prerequisites and qualifications required by these programs vary.

Indiana University's Department of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences requires that students have a minimum 3.0 GPA to apply for the master's program in Speech Language Pathology as well as the Au.D. and Ph.D. programs.

Alumni connections

Talk with Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences faculty, the academic advisorcareer coach and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of this degree.

The IU College of Arts + Sciences has thousands of active alumni. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join the Walter Center Success Network to remain in touch, network directly with College of Arts + Sciences Alumni, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences program attracts students from a variety of backgrounds and interests. These students typically have some of the following qualities:

  • Proficient verbal communication 
  • Strategic problem solving
  • Curiosity across disciplines
  • Desire to help others
  • Empathy for patients and families
  • Highly analytical, pragmatic and logical thinking
  • Aptitude for languages, including American Sign Language
  • Excellent organizational and time management skills

Learn more

Contact the Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences academic advisor to schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
sphsadv@iu.edu